Jump to content
CrazyBoards.org

difficulty concentrating?


Recommended Posts

hey all,

I'm hitting exam period in grad school and finding that my ability to concentrate has completely gone out the window. I can do okay in class (i.e. with verbal comprehension), though it's not great. I have a harder time when I'm trying to read study guides or review the material.

As background, over the past five months, I've been in a pretty awful depressive episode (not saying they aren't all awful), but I've recently started to feel better (over the past three weeks or so). I'd even venture to say that maybe the episode is over. My tdoc is cautiously optimistic about it as well.

So the main issue--what about this difficulty concentrating/focusing? I'm wondering if it's just an anxiety thing...that I can't concentrate because I'm worried about how I'll do on exams, whether I'll have the endurance to make it through them, etc. But I'm worried that it might be something else. Anyone have experience with this stuff?

thanks,

dance

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, that's exactly what I would have written. Horribly depressed, then treated that, then leftover concentration issues.

It could be the medication, if you've changed meds recently.

It could also be anxiety. Have you tried your PRN Ativan to see if it makes any difference?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you sleeping ok?

Anxiety, depression, and undiagnosed sleep issues can all cause concentration problems and that is one of the first things I notice before I get really bad. I know you don't take Wellbutrin anymore, but did you notice any difference in your ability to concentrate on it?

I started on it roughly 6 weeks ago when I was getting really bad depression-wise (I also had a sleep study done a few days ago and am waiting to see what the sleep doc says - something is wrong I know that much) and my memory and focus seem to be much better on the Wellbutrin.

Sorry I can't offer much more than that, but you are not alone ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My understanding is that bipolar episodes can basically permanently, or at least long-term, affect the brain's ability to focus, concentrate, as well as attention span.

Through my psychopharmacologist I actually took part in a study about the effectiveness of intranasal insulin for helping with this, b/c as I said, apparently it's a known impact of bipolar.

....I didn't finish the study, which was double-blind, b/c they said I wouldn't have to take time off work and I was always having to take 1/2 days off to go in and do different tests and concentration activities, but that's an aside. My concentration and focus has never improved to what it was prior to my first episode.

http://mdpu.ca/intranasal_insulin_brochure.pdf

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tryp--sorry to hear you're going through the same stuff, though maybe it's good in some sense that the depression's been relieved? I'm trying to keep that in mind, though the concentration stuff is frustrating because it hinders functioning as a student so much (and in work, I'd assume).

I haven't had any major med changes. I'm still going up on lamictal (well, lamotrigine), but the last increase was a good 10 days ago and the concentration's only the past few days. that said, it does seem to get a little bit better when I take the ativan at night, so maybe some of it is an anxiety that my brain's experiencing but I'm not consciously feeling. I'm a little concerned about exams and my ability to survive them, but it doesn't feel like a "needs medication now" type of anxiety. But because the concentration stuff does in fact go away w/ the ativan (or at least get better), I'll keep that in mind.

Rush--sleep is actually okay for now. My tdoc has me keeping a very careful eye on it. It could be that I'm drugging myself to sleep each night (prescribed, not self-medicating). The risperdal's usually good at knocking me out and I get a nice solid 8-9 hours. So I don't think it's that one. Maybe it is anxiety after all then.

On the wellbutrin piece...I took it as part of my last episode and things got so much worse this time that it's a little hard to compare. I can't quite remember how much of an effect it had on the concentration piece...I know that it helped me get better (in combo w/ effexor), but I can't remember what symptoms were at my worst when we added it in. I should have written this stuff down a bit more.

Jarn--I have to admit that I hope that this is a temporary problem, rather than a long-term change. But thanks for letting me know that sometimes the changes are permanent. I'll keep that in mind...and it'll give me another good incentive to stick w/ meds that work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, since you're hitting exam period, no harm in leaning on the Ativan a bit. You could even take 0.5 instead of 1 mg, if you're worried about it. I'm probably going to lean on my Seroquel a bit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't had any major med changes. I'm still going up on lamictal (well, lamotrigine), but the last increase was a good 10 days ago and the concentration's only the past few days.

Lamictal made me feel stupid while I was titrating up. It really got me when I was speaking though; I'd try to say something, and I'd get tongue tied mid sentence. It started happening when I hit 100mg. It's supposed to have a low occurrence of cognitive side effects, but you never know, it happens.

I can identify with the finals stress. Good luck on them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sympathise with the difficulty concentrating. I was supposed to be doing an Open University course this year, but had to duck out at the beginning after I realised that not only could I not concentrate on any of the course work, but that I'd read the same chapter in the set book about 20 times (AND made coherent notes) without being able to remember a single word of it.

I find my concentration is bad during depression as my mind just can't be bothered, basically. But it's worse when I start getting manic. I just can't stay focused on anything at all for more than about 15 minutes and my mind just jumps about all over the place. It's a real pain in the backside.

I don't have anything to suggest to ease it, but you're definitely not alone in this.

LW

x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ARGH!!!!!!! Ick.

I feel really bad complaining when it's not the paralyzing depression, messy psychosis, or anything like that that I've handled recently and that I know other people are handling right now. But this is truly annoying and scary and makes learning hard.

Blah. Grumble. Ick. Argh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel really bad complaining when it's not the paralyzing depression, messy psychosis, or anything like that that I've handled recently and that I know other people are handling right now. But this is truly annoying and scary and makes learning hard.

You shouldn't feel bad....it's frustrating, and hard to deal with. And this is something I found very....I struggled with it. I understand why you feel that way!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Exactly, Jarn! It is extremely frustrating, especially if you're used to being pretty smart (which most of us seem to be, despite the MI), and it doesn't matter what level your illness is, or how much your learning is impaired, it is impaired and that is very depressing.

Things may improve for you, so hang in there!

LW

x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW, when depressed my focus is usually unaffected (or at least affected least), and I often take solace in withdrawing, shutting out things, and focusing intensely on one activity. What is affected when depressive is my capacity to tolerate and process multiple things. I get exhausted and overwhelmed easily by "stuff", because I can't process things. So I do the withdraw-and-focus trick and it helps. This is how I lost 4 years of my life, heh.

When I'm getting a lot of up/energy, that's when my concentration is affected. If I am TOO up, my brain has this fizz, this static electricity, it reminds me of a computer fan spinning while the CPU is already dead... spinning and spinning without point. I will look at words, literally I will stare at them, and I can't make sense of the words, like as if I were drunk. My brain is just spinning without point, can't even hook on to some words to understand a single page of written language. Before I knew more about bipolar, I thought maybe I had ADHD... then I learned that ADHD is there constantly whereas bipolar is cyclical so what I had wasn't ADHD since I focus really well ordinarily (even when depressed).

Although, I process lots of things at once when up, and memory may even be enhanced if the energy is more moderate, it's when it gets too much that I am flitting from thing to thing to thing and I sit there being unable to get anything at all done. That's when I start pounding desks and gripping my head in frustration and I realize that being up isn't much better than being down sometimes, lol.

Short story... focus/concentration is worse when too UP, whereas when down I can concentrate/focus well but I can't multitask/process things at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks everyone...I just needed to get the ARGH out, but I appreciate the tips and comments also. It is true that it's frustrating anyway. It just feels like such a minor thing in comparison. Though my therapist's comment was that maybe it's just normal functioning--that it's okay to be distractable and have difficulty concentrating when you're studying something boring that you have no interest in (the current situation). Maybe. I'm still a little worried, but who knows.

Thanks for the info, oscillatewildly. I'm still not sure if I'm bipolar or not (responsive to lamictal, but at a lower dose than mood stabilizing; diagnosis is still tbd by tdoc/pdoc; some symptoms of hypomania before, but might have been a trauma response)...but I kind of post on here to cover my bases. And the more I read, the more it seems like it might be more of a bipolar (2?) thing than pure depression. I don't know...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not that I can't concentrate... it's more like I can't do anything for longer than 10 minutes except for CB. Now how fucked up is that? I can't read, I can't watch tv, I can't cook, I can't take a shower, I can't sit at the doctor's office without flipping out from waiting and causing a scene. Why the hell is that?

I mean, I know I'm having a mood episode right now, but this is rediculous. And because I can concentrate on CB, my husband thinks I'm having an affair on here or something!

/end threadjack

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's exam time for me too, and I can't concentrate for shit... I've had bipolar for years and years (20+) and this is a recent phenomenon. So, I'm guessing it's something else. Medication? My recent diagnosis of fibro? Bipolar getting worse? Old age advancing? Who the hell knows?

Could just be stress.

Can I join you in the AAAARRRGGGG?

I shoulda had my Chaucer paper written days ago... *sigh*

I only have three finals to study for, one portfolio to do and the paper's not due until tomorrow... why shouldn't I be surfing the net?

God I hate this.

sorry for jacking your thread... this isn't about me, it's about you. I meant to say, I'm right there with you. It could be a lot of things, but I wouldn't put it all on bipolar. Then again as always YMMV.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have BIG problems with concentration. to the point where i cant maintain eye contact when talking even for short sentences. Its not an anxiety thing for me. I don't feel anxious I'm just really all over the place.

I have been feeling 'ok' lately. (although have been having seizures). mentally ok. just cant concentrate. I'm at uni and its really hard to study - i have no motivation, even if i do i cant sit still to work on anything for more than 10 mins without getting distracted. AND I reread stuff about 20 times and don't remember it - as someone else already said.

When I am depressed, I flat out don't care and this total lack of motivation means i dont even try to concentrate (and if i do, i do pretty bad).

When I am manic I am too interested in everything else happening (or angry at whatever is going on) that I dont concentrate on anything *except what I want to concentrate on*.

I think as a child I was better. I seem to be losing the ability to sit still and concentrate over time.

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

You're not alone.

It's also exam time in rainingland and raining can't concentrate beyond two sentences.

Wake up trying to study, spending 4 hours to read five pages, and then getting exhausted and discouraged. Going to sleep always hoping that tomorrow will be better.

This just adds so much to the stress so much doesn't it?

I am trying to find a rapid way out of this. Have considered getting some coke or speed, but I don't want to risk instability during exam time.

Does anyone know how to fix this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I have suffered the same frustrating monkey mind symptoms. You are def not alone! Thankfully I had my last exam yesterday!

It could be that when recovering from a mood episode, it takes time for your mind/emotions to get back to a more functional stability. Coming out of an awful depression is bound to take its toll. As is titrating up with a new med.

I had this a few yrs ago, when I was studying for a Masters. Like you, I was coming out of a major depression, massively aided by Lamictal, which I felt fuzzy-headed on for a while before I stabilised. Once I did, my concentration was better than ever and I did well. It could be you just need time and stabilising on Lamictal. Who knows?

I have to say benzos like Ativan / Valium do help with focus for me cos they slow down my thoughts - could indeed be your anxiety or the activating properties of Lamictal , maybe? I went slightly hypomanic on it....

This isn't about me, just trying to say I had similar experiences and it improved on Lamictal.

I really hope you start feeling better soon and that the meds work well...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh I can concentrate on academic shit fine - just about to finish a doctorate in psychology. Blazingly psychotic and thinking all sorts of crazy thoughts but I can concentrate and get the work done. Doing another open university grad degree in October. And that is on 300mg of mind melting Topamax. What I can't concentrate on is conversations with people if I am out in a public place. I can't filter out other people's conversations and concentrate on the one I am having. I think everyone is commentating on my thoughts. Every word comes through to me. I can't shut it off. It effectively killed my social life and renders me housebound. Even at work I think everyone is reacting to my thoughts. They luckily can't read my mind (thank christ) and I love them and trust them but my thoughts do influence their actions. And that sounds horribly self-obsessed and narcisstic - oh my thoughts influence people. Like who the fuck cares what I think? I even think my thoughts influence the adverts that are shown on tv and the movies that are shown on tv and the music played on the radio. I feel like a self-obsessed bitch for thinking like this - get over yourself blackbird! But that's fucking psychosis for ya...

But I can't read a book for pleasure anymore. I have an Updike lying on my bedroom floor for 5 months now and i would have gobbled that up in 3 days back in the good old times so yeah my concentration is affected.

blackbird x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...